When the temperature drops and snow starts falling, Michigan transforms into a winter wonderland. From snow sports to holiday magic, embracing the cold opens up countless ways to enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty.
Here are some fun activities that will have you loving winter in the Great Lakes State.
1. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Zoom down groomed slopes at ski resorts like Boyne Mountain, Crystal Mountain, and Caberfae Peaks. Michigan’s Lower Peninsula offers beginner hills along with steep terrain, terrain parks, gladed areas and backcountry skiing for more advanced shredders.
Rent gear, take a lesson, warm up by the fire, and enjoy a hot beverage after your runs. With affordable lift tickets, it’s one of the most popular winter pastimes.
2. Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Glide through snow-covered forests and meadows on cross country skis or snowshoes. Top destinations include Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park with over 90 miles of scenic trails along Lake Superior and the Black River.
Other spots like Pigeon River Country State Forest, Waterloo Recreation Area, and Sleeping Bear Dunes allow you to explore stunning winter landscapes. Rent equipment and head out for a peaceful wilderness adventure.
3. Ice Skating
Lace up your skates and take to one of Michigan’s many scenic outdoor ice rinks. Downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius Park converts to a rink surrounded by city lights.
You can skate through the wilderness at MDNR’s Mt. Brighton Ski Area. Or glide alongside fairy tale sculptures at the Legendary Hall of Fantasy in Frankenmuth. Indoor arenas like Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo also offer public skating sessions to practice your moves.
Whoosh down snowy hills on an inner tube, plastic sled, or toboggan at parks and ski resorts across Michigan.
Top sledding hills include the giant hill at Grand Haven’s Dewey Hill, the dunes at Warren Dunes State Park, and the terrain parks when they’re open to the public at resorts like Crystal Mountain and Mt. Holly.
This classic winter activity offers thrills along with beautiful scenery. Don’t forget the hot cocoa after!
Zip through winter landscapes on an exciting snowmobile adventure. Over 6,500 miles of designated trails run throughout upper and northern Michigan, including groomed pathways through Hiawatha National Forest, the Jordan Valley Recreation Area, and the Pigeon River Country State Forest.
Rent a machine or join a guided tour. Stop in local towns for meals and enjoy stunning vistas of forests, lakes, and farmland.
6. Ice Fishing
Drill a hole, drop your line, and try catching fish below the frozen surface of inland lakes and the Great Lakes.
Top destinations include Lake St. Clair for perch and walleye, Houghton Lake for panfish, Higgins Lake for trout and smelt, and Lake Gogebic for walleye, perch and northern pike.
Bring an ice shanty, portable heater, tip-ups, and your favorite bait. Ice fishing makes for an exciting winter adventure.
7. Winter Festivals
Bundle up and head to exciting winter festivals held across the state. At the Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth, see elaborate snow and ice sculptures illuminated at night.
Cheer on racers at the Sisu Cross Country Ski Festival in Ironwood. Check out ice carvers in action at the Plymouth Ice Festival.
Other fun events include the Holland Winter Fest and the South Haven Winterfest. Hot beverages, bonfires, and activities like dog sled rides make these lively celebrations.
8. Snow Tubing
For family-friendly winter thrills, head to one of Michigan’s snow tubing hills. Speed down groomed lane chutes while comfortably seated in an inner tube.
Top tubing spots include Mt. Holly in southeast Michigan, Klondike Park in Oscoda, Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort in Traverse City, and Boyne Mountain which has a massive 7-lane terrain park. Affordable rates make this a fun activity for all ages.
9. Frozen Waterfalls
One stunning natural wonder to discover in Michigan wintertime are frozen waterfalls. Miners Falls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers gorgeous tiered falls that freeze into intricate ice formations along the Munising snowmobile trail.
Other frozen falls include Upper Tahquamenon Falls and Bond Falls. The magical landscapes are beautiful to photograph. Just be extremely careful hiking on frozen terrain.
10. Spas and Wellness
Treat yourself to rest and relaxation at one of Michigan’s world-class spas and wellness centers. Get pampered with massages, body treatments, manicures and more at resort spas like Crystal Mountain’s Crystal Spa.
Or spend a day soaking in mineral waters at REACH Indoor Waterpark in Petoskey which touts therapeutic benefits. Enjoy saunas, yoga classes and healthy dining at holistic wellness centers like Lake Shore Resort in Alanson. With plentiful options, it’s the perfect way to unwind.
For old-fashioned family fun, spend an evening bowling at lanes across Michigan.
Top picks include the luxury 20-lane Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park with VIP lanes, Foamy’s in Cadillac housed in a log cabin lodge, Patterson’s Bowling Center in a restored 1914 building in Kalamazoo, and Striker’s Entertainment Center in Livonia offering duckpin bowling.
Many venues offer billiards, arcades, dining and full bars for enjoying a night out.
12. DIY Crafts
Unleash your creativity with a fun DIY crafting project. Michigan stores like Crafts Direct, My Happy Place, and Ragamuffin offer DIY workshops where you can make your own candles, mosaics, glass art, wood signs, pottery and more.
Or gather friends for a crafting party at home. Look on Pinterest or Etsy for ideas like knitting, jewelry-making, stamping, embroidery, decoupage, resin art, and other crafty endeavors to try your hand at.
13. Indoor Trampoline Parks
Let the kids literally bounce off the walls at indoor trampoline parks, perfect for expending energy on cold winter days.
Top indoor trampoline gyms in Michigan include SkyZone with locations across the state, Planet3 Extreme Air Park in Grand Rapids, Krash Adventure Park in Taylor, and Pump It Up in Clinton Township.
Enjoy wall-to-wall aerial action as you jump into foam pits, test your skills on trampoline obstacle courses, and more!
14. Winter Carnivals
Many small towns across Michigan put on annual winter carnivals, bringing communities together for family fun. These lively festivals feature parades, fireworks, giant bonfires, chili cook-offs, dog sled races, ice carving displays, and more.
Notable events include the Jackson Winter Fest, the Sault Ste. Marie Winter Carnival, Harbor Springs Magic Ice Fest, SnowFest in West Branch, and the White Lake Winter Carnaval. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of winter.
15. Frozen Canoeing
Paddle a canoe across frozen rivers and lakes for a tranquil winter outdoor adventure. Top frozen waterways include the Upper Manistee River near Mesick, Rifle River near West Branch, and Shingle Mill Pathway canal in Lansing.
This unique sport allows you to glide peacefully over crystal clear ice while taking in snow-covered scenery. Local outfitters like PM Expeditions offer guided trips for beginners. With proper precautions, it’s both stunning and serene.
16. Indoor Skydiving
Experience the thrill of this extreme sport in a climate-controlled environment at iFLY Traverse City or AirTime Trampoline and Adventure Park in Warren. The vertical wind tunnels safely simulate the sensation of freefall.
Just a 15 minute intro session will have you floating and “flying” under an instructor’s supervision. With training classes available too, indoor skydiving is a unique adventure for daring thrillseekers.
17. Winter Sports Complexes
For activities galore in one place, head to massive winter sports complexes like the Mt. Holly Ski and Snowboard Resort in Holly and the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. Mt. Holly offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, cross country, and lessons.
The Muskegon complex features a skating rink, luge and bobsled tracks, biathlon shooting and ski area, alongside trails for skiing, snowshoeing and more. With different sports to try, these facilities let you do it all!
With its stunning snowy settings and abundance of things to do indoors and out, Michigan truly shines in wintertime. With such diverse activities across the state, Michigan provides memorable options for winter fun and adventure.
Visitors and residents alike can truly embrace the cold season and see how it reveals a brand new side of the Great Lakes State. Donning a hat and gloves opens up endless opportunities to appreciate wintry landscapes, enjoy thrilling snow sports, and partake in holiday magic.
Experience the best of winter in Michigan and you’re guaranteed to love this spectacular season.